Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nick's Crispy Tacos

I've been hearing about Nick's Crispy Tacos for ages.  And I've been on a bit of a taco kick lately, after having some pretty good tacos from Rubios on multiple occasions and Tropisueño.   And of course, they are on LevelUp, which finally encouraged me to journey there.

Now, being the LevelUp pro I am, I waited until their famous Taco Tuesdays, where tacos are only $2, which just happens to be how much they seed LevelUp with.  Taco Tuesdays begin at 5pm, and I'd read that it gets crazy there fast, so people recommend going right at 5pm.  So I did.  There was already a line out the door, but it moved pretty quickly, and I was able to get the last table.  I can't imagine what the place is like at 7pm on a Tuesday!

You order at the register, and then they give you a number to take back to your table.  They are cash or LevelUp only, a strange combo, but it was nice to be somewhere where they weren't annoyed that I was using LevelUp, and rather were happy that I wasn't yet another person in line trying to use a credit card.  I've been really shocked by how many places use LevelUp, but act like you are causing the biggest inconvenience ever when you go to pay with it.  Or how many places have dead batteries on their LevelUp phones, or have them turned off, or worse, have just given up and stopped accepting it all together.  I must say, the LevelUp experience usually is pretty rough.  At Nick's, that part went smoothly.

The food came quickly, I had just enough time to use the not so clean bathroom before settling into my seat when a server arrived, snatching up my number and placing my basket of food in front of me, wordlessly.  Well, it is a casual place, so service isn't really part of it.

The majority of the establishment is actually a bar, and apparently a nightclub after 7pm.  I was gone long before the transformation occurred.  The crowd at 5pm was pretty strange; I saw more babies and small children in the 20 minutes or so that I was there than I do in an entire week normally.  I have no idea why people would bring their kids here, perhaps its just an easy dinner option, and 5pm is when families dine?

Anyway.  It wasn't very good.  And not even worth the Taco Tuesday prices.  I won't be going back.
Pollo Taco: Seasoned, simmered chicken in corn tortilla with pico de gallo & pinto beans.  $3.75 ($2 on Taco Tuesday)
For Taco Tuesday, the seafood tacos are not included, and are still full price.  Since I'd normally get a fish or shrimp taco, this meant I had to either pay double or get something I am less into, but I decided to branch out and do that, as it had worked out at Tropisueño, and I do like trying new things.  The selection for tacos isn't large: carne asada, pollo, pollo asado, carnitas, or veggie.  All include pinto beans and salsa fresca.  For $0.95 more,  you can make it "Nick's way", adding cheese and guac, and wrap it in a crispy shell.  Since I'm allergic to avocado and wanted to stick to my "budget", I didn't do it Nick's way, even though the Yelpers all say that is how they are good.  I don't like pork, the veggie one didn't actually contain any extra veggies so is just beans and salsa, and I wasn't in the mood for steak, so I went for chicken.  I asked for a recommendation between the pollo and pollo asado, and the person taking my order said without a single moments hesitation to get the pollo.  So I did.

The taco came in a plastic basket, that wasn't entirely clean.  Oh well, that is why it was lined with paper right?

It was wrapped up in a handy paper as well, different from the way most tacos are served, but really quite convenient and made it much easier to eat.

It was a heafty taco.  The difference in taco sizes everywhere continues to surprise me.  Somewhere like Pancho Villa they are basically bite sized, and it takes three to really make a meal.  At Rubio's or Tropisueño, one is a good snack, but two would be a dinner.  Here, one was incredibly filling.  Although, unlike most places, they do not include chips and salsa with your order, they are an additional $2.

Like Tropisueño, it was double wrapped in corn tortillas.  They were soft, and had a better corn flavor than those at Tropisueño, but not as much flavor as those from Rubio's.

The taco contained a ton of chicken.  Shredded chicken, mostly white meat.  It actually seemed fairly good quality.  It wasn't very flavorful however, not much seasoning.  It tasted very ... chicken-y.  Which is fine, except I just don't really like chicken that much.  Oops.

They only offer whole pinto beans.  Again, not something I like that much, I prefer refried, and not black beans.  These were cooked well, not too mushy nor undercooked, but meh, I don't really like this type of beans.  Double oops.  Although, had I left them out, there wouldn't have been much to this taco.

There was also some pico de gallo.  The tomato was fresh tasting and looked ripe, although not particularly flavorful.  It was the best component of the taco.

Overall, I was impressed with the size and quantity of chicken in here, but I really didn't like it much at all.  Partially my own fault since I don't care for the main ingredients, but also, there just wasn't really any seasoning or flavor to it.  Very unremarkable, even when I added tons of salsa to it.  Meh.

I knew tax would put me over my LevelUp budget, but for some reason I was charged $2.25.  Perhaps Healthy SF was included?  Anyway, this taco didn't really seem worth that price, and I can't imagine paying the regular $3.75 price for it, particularly when you can get a far higher quality and tastier taco from Tropisueño or Rubio's for less.

I wouldn't get this again.
Salsa in squeeze bottles on the table.
Rather than a salsa bar, Nick's has two squeeze bottles of salsa on each table.  They were both sticky, and I felt gross eating with my hands after touching these.  But tacos and chips are finger foods ...

Niether one of these salsas was notable in any way.  The green one didn't have any heat to it, was just a salsa verde.  The red one had a tiny amount of spice, but not much, and not in an interesting way.

Weakest salsas of anywhere I've tried.
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